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Weight Loss, Anyone?

The new year always brings out the exercise and gym membership commercials.

Weight Loss, Anyone?

It’s been a week since we jubilantly ushered in the brand-new year. Some of us celebrated a little harder than others; you know who you are. Next year, I hope to get an invitation.

Now it’s time for the onslaught of new year commercials. Frankly, most of them are weight loss and gym programs and I’m getting annoyed at being told that I need to lose weight. I know that already – you’re hurting my apparently rather large feelings.

There are so many products out there that claim to make weight loss as easy as breathing. The fine print tells another story. I wrote about this once before, but just in case you missed it, I’ll share again. The weight loss supplement, “Alli” has listed as one of its side effects the possibility of stool leakage. Maybe they should join forces with Depends.

Varying weight loss gadgets or home gyms are on sale this time of year, imagine that. Leotard-clad 20 somethings who look like they’ve never met a hamburger in their lives are usually dancing around crowing about how easy it is to use whatever piece of equipment they’re hawking. As I’m watching them, I’m imagining tackling them, waving a Big Mac under their noses and daring them not to take a bite.

Once, just once, I’d love to see a middle-aged woman wearing sweatpants, an oversized shirt and a headband jumping around, then taking a break to put her hands on her knees as she bends over to catch her breath. As she’s sweating profusely and panting, I’d have the camera do a close-up as she says, “This sucks, but I’m worth it.”

Take that L’Oreal.

Still, I’m not immune to the fantastic claims made by exercise equipment pitchmen, which was evidenced a few years ago. There were ads for exercise balls all over television, complete with the promise that using them would be fun and easy. I was enthralled, but got a little nervous when it claimed that it was burst resistant. I have a history of breaking things.

I pressed on, however, and whined to Matt that I needed it. Matt gave in and I ordered it, but only after his stern warning that I’d better use it. I also have a history of buying exercise gadgets, but after a little while, I manage to lose them.

It finally came, but I was disappointed to see that it didn’t come already blown up. They probably said that in the fine print.

Those of you who’ve ever seen or inflated an exercise ball will find this next admission astounding. I tried to blow it up – with my mouth. Due to the nature of the tiny little hole, it proved impossible. I almost passed out.

When Matt came home, I told him that the ball was broken and we needed to get another one. He fished around in the box it came in and produced a handheld pump, screwed it into the little hole, and had it inflated in about 60 seconds.

I’ll give him credit, though, he really did try to keep himself from laughing.

I looked over the ball, and then I asked him where the handle was, which had him confused. He asked what handle I was talking about. “You know, the one I hold onto. How else am I supposed to bounce around on that thing?”

Turns out, in my mind, I’d envisioned a favorite childhood toy – the Hippity Hop. I had completely misunderstood the purpose of the exercise ball; or possibly I didn’t pay attention. It’s probably the second one.

I really did try to learn how to use it, though, but I kept rolling off, sending the ball catapulting across the room. I chased it down the stairs, and once it flew out the open window into the road. I would have gotten rid of it, too, had Matt not been out talking to our neighbor. Wait, I meant to say, I might have lost it if not for Matt’s heroic sprint across the street and Rambo-like weaving through traffic.

Suffice it to say, it was not the fun exercise routine I had been promised.

It’s been about two years, and I’ve “lost” the ball. When it’s deflated, it’s easy to hide, or, um, misplace. I’m sticking to the elliptical that we got a few years ago. So far, I haven’t fallen off of it; but with me, you can never tell. Come to think of it, that’s probably why we have two-inch thick plastic gymnastic mats all around it.

We’re a week into the New Year, and there are a whole new crop of weight loss gadgets, diets, and pill commercials aimed at making a lot less of us. Just remember to read the fine print and don’t believe that any device is going to make exercising enjoyable.

And one more piece of advice: if you’re looking for an exercise ball that’s actually fun, save yourself a lot of irritation. Go to Toys "R" Us.

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